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Raleigh council looks to trim planned safety center

Posted January 5, 2010

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— City Council members on Tuesday discussed ways to cut costs in the planned Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center and keep any tax increase needed to pay for the facility to a minimum.

Designs for the building already have been reduced by one floor, from 17 to 16 stories, and construction costs have been cut by $27 million from December 2008 estimates. The 302,000-square-foot building is now expected to cost $205 million.

Public safety center creates council backlash

The public safety center would provide a new home for the Raleigh Police Department, Raleigh Fire Department, 911 communications center and other emergency services. It would be built on the site where the police department is now headquartered, at the corner of McDowell and Hargett streets.

"What we really want is the room to operate today and tomorrow and not to move as much. That may be more information than what you want, but I know that the officers would like homes for the next decade or two," Police Chief Harry Dolan told the City Council during a Tuesday afternoon meeting.

Some council members questioned the need for certain amenities inside, such as a large auditorium and viewing room. They said such components unnecessarily inflate the cost of the building.

"We've heard people say, 'We need it,' but we don't need a Taj Mahal," Councilwoman Nancy McFarlane said.

"How are the city's interests being protected and making sure that is as low a guaranteed maximum price as it can be?" Councilman Russ Stephenson said.

Councilman Bonner Gaylord has questioned the need for the new building altogether, saying he thinks the police headquarters could be renovated instead of replaced.

The City Council is expected to continue discussing the public safety center at its Jan. 19 meeting.

The slow economy has already delayed construction of the center, and Mayor Charles Meeker said he hopes to see work get started this year. The police headquarters is scheduled to move out of downtown by March so that demolition can begin on the current building.

Officials said the project would create 1,800 construction jobs, and Meeker said delaying the project could cost Raleigh more in the long run.

"It can't be a better time to build it in terms of construction costs and interest costs. We can lock in a $50 million savings by proceeding now," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • 5Rs Jan 6, 2010

    Sell the Convention Center. It only cost $300+M, should be able to get $200M for it. We (the Taxpayers) will still be paying off all those Conv Center bonds forever, but wouldn't have an additional $200M (plus 30% overruns) to pay for.

  • james27613 Jan 6, 2010

    I agree with the other poster, the vacant hotel complex on
    Capital Blvd just north of 440 would be perfect place to lease.

    This building has been empty for over ten years except for one failed Hotel Europa enterprise.

    Just need some paint and change the lightbulbs, clean the carpets and put in the workers.

    Parking no problem either.

  • districtcadvocate Jan 5, 2010

    with the extra tax to pay for this and then 1/4 of a billion to pay for the waste water treatment mandatory upgrades excactly where is the money tree that we are suppose to pluck to pay for these 'big city' cost.

    Where are Barney and Andy when you need them? They use to stay at the Y but we out grew that.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jan 5, 2010

    Putting the police department, the fire department, 911, and emergency services in the same building is a big mistake.

    You don't want all of your eggs in one basket.

    Does anybody remember the Oklahoma City bombing.

    If someone blew up the new building in the future, the police department, fire department, 911, and emergency services are out of business.

  • Unaffiliated Patriot Jan 5, 2010

    Sounds like another tax and spend ego center to me...that can do without entirely until we're back on our feet. Somebody has Obamaitis. Wonder how many people who are out of work and either hungry or homeless could be fed and sheltered for that $200,000,000? Can't wait for the 2010 and 2012 elections...ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WAIT !

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jan 5, 2010

    With the people of Raleigh suffering throught high unemployment and high taxes, the last thing that we need is for the city to build a Taj-Mahal resulting in a tax increase.

    The city employees need to take one for the team and continue to work in existing facilities.

  • doobedobedoodoo Jan 5, 2010

    How about a pay raise for the troops, Chief?

  • archmaker Jan 5, 2010

    where do you live crazie? the convention center is a county-owned facility, not the city.

  • craziecrafter Jan 5, 2010

    I am so glad I don't live in Raleigh!!! You got a new Civic Center you really didn't need and now a Public Safety Center that isn't really needed. Remodel the existing building and leave the City taxpayers alone. They have enough tax burden.

  • WHEEL Jan 5, 2010

    How about locking in a $200,000,000 saving and not start at all?